All-Terrain Vehicle or Quad Bike
The all-terrain vehicle, or more familiarly quad bike, is one of the all-terrain vehicles used by the Defence Forces. As a name, all-terrain vehicle may sound a bit odd, where does the name come from? The Finnish road traffic act does not recognise a vehicle by the name quad bike, the correct term is light four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle. However, the Defence Forces use the name quad bike, as it describes the vehicle better.
Why have the Defence Forces decided to purchase this type of vehicle? The quad bike’s all-terrain qualities make it an excellent vehicle for transporting for example material and evacuating wounded even in challenging terrain. To begin with, quad bikes were acquired for the signals and ground-based air defence troops, but the need for them grew within the Defence Forces and more were purchased. Nowadays, quad bikes are used by almost all troops.
Quad bikes used by the Defence Forces are approved for road traffic only on special conditions; after all, their main purpose of use is driving in the terrain. On public roads, the speed limit for Defence Forces’ quad bikes is 40 km/h and they may carry one passenger. There are two types of triple-axle and six-wheeled quad bikes: the 500cc, where power is transmitted to the rear axle by chains and the 800cc, where power is transmitted via a cardan shaft. Both models are equipped with a dump box with a 200 kg payload capacity. A passenger is counted as payload on a quad bike. A trailer can be hitched to the vehicle for larger materiel transports and patient evacuation. The trailer’s maximum weight capacity is 300 kg. The trailer can carry three persons at most when training for example evacuation, but in such case the vehicle may be driven only off road and the maximum speed allowed is 20 km/h.
Quad bike training
What then is required in order to be allowed to drive a quad bike during military service? To drive a quad bike, you must successfully complete the quad bike course. On the Karelia Logistics Battalion’s quad bike course in the Karelia Brigade, trainees learn about the quad bike’s structure and related traffic regulations, as well as how to drive it. The objective of the course is for the students to gain a type permit for driving a quad bike. After the course, trainees must know the Defence Forces’ quad bike regulations, be capable of driving a quad bike in different terrain conditions and know how to carry out daily inspection and maintenance procedures, as well as make repairs on the quad bike using their own tools.
The quad bike course lasts two weeks and is made up of lessons, structural training, driving in the terrain and on the road, as well as maintenance work. Gaining more experience in driving the quad bike takes place during exercises towards the end of military service, although drivers meet the most demanding terrain already during the course itself. Being able to maintain and repair their quad bike is an essential skill for drivers, because the vehicle really needs maintenance so that it stays fit to be driven. The driver also has to make sure to fill up the quad bike’s tank as the vehicle’s fuel consumption is quite high and the tank is very small. For this reason, the quad bike’s range in the terrain is less than 100 kilometres.